THE CHRIST AND THE CROSS

LUKE 9:18-27

When we first read through this passage, we are struck by the fact that it tells us who Jesus is. The passage DOES do that. But that is not all it does. It also goes ont to tell us who WE are to be.

You see, when you come to the place in your life where you finally see Jesus for who and what He really is, then YOU will be different. Knowing Jesus changes you.

9:18

9:21

9:23

Confessing the Christ

The Christ and His Cross

Christís Followers and their Cross

The focus on this section of Scripture will start on Jesus, but it will not end there. It will culminate by looking at the effect that knowing Christ has on His followers.

 

A KEY QUESTION

And it came about that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, "Who do the multitudes say that I am?"

And they answered and said, "John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again." (Luke 9:18-19).

There comes a turning point in your life which brings a chain reaction that changes your entire life. Marriage is like that. It changes your whole life. Priorities change. You reorient your entire approach to life as you become one with another person.

The disciples had gone through such a change. They had come to know Jesus. They had followed Him and had heard Him and had ministered with Him. And now they are brought to a climactic conclusion. Things will never be the same after this. It all begins with a question.

Who is Jesus? I'm not talking about His address and social security number (Jesus of Nazareth, SS: 777-03-0001). The question that the author is presenting is who is Jesus REALLY?

Men in that day had come up with a number of theories to explain this miracle-working rabbi from Nazareth. Three such views are mentioned by the disciples.

And they answered and said, "John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again." (Luke 9:19).

All three of these views have already been reported by Luke earlier in this chapter. We saw in Luke 9:7-8 that Herod Antipas had heard these same three views.

These were favorable responses. Public opinion was favorable toward Jesus. But it fell short of eternal truth. And to fall short in such a manner is an insult to God.

 

A CONFESSION OF THE CHRIST

And He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" And Peter answered and said, "The Christ of God." (Luke 9:20).

The first question was merely introductory. It was to get them thinking. But now Jesus asks of them the key question. It matters not what other people think. What do YOU think?

Jesus does not allow them to sit on the fence. He forces them to a decision. Have you made that decision? There comes a time when you have to get off the fence. To make no decision is to make a decision.

That fact that Jesus asks this question of His disciples at THIS point in His ministry is significant. This was a time of growing pressure. Antipas was seeking out Jesus. The religious leaders were beginning to mobilize against Jesus. This would naturally cause His disciples to wonder whether they had made the right decision in following Him. After all, they were going against the religious experts of the day.

I think that I will scream the next time I hear some well-meaning saint say, "I don't think that we should focus on theology; we ought to just love Jesus." But which Jesus do you love? Peter loved Jesus and that was good. But what made it especially significant was the CONTENT of that love.

When Peter says, "The CHRIST" he is using the Greek word for the Hebrew term "Messiah." This is significant, especially in light of the fact that for all of the miracles and for all of the teaching of Jesus that we have heard up to this point, He had never yet publicly announced Himself to be the promised Messiah of Israel.

Why not? It was because He determined not to be a self-proclaimed Messiah. It was His actions and His person that made this proclamation on His behalf. For three years, the disciples lived with Him, ate with Him, traveled with Him and their conclusion at the end of that time is recorded here.

Christ - Messiah!!

There is a principle here. It is that intimacy and knowledge go together. If you can get people next to Jesus, then Jesus will get them to the truth. Intimacy and knowledge go together.

I have a friend that rubs people the wrong way. He can walk into a group and immediately make 10 enemies. He is abrasive. He is like the fingernail scratching on the chalkboard. But I know him. And it is because I know him and understand him that I can be a close friend to him. I used to spend a lot of time explaining him to others. But I found a better way. I found that, if others will just get to know him, they will usually come to like him, too.

 

A PROMISE OF THE CROSS

But He warned them, and instructed them not to tell this to anyone, 22 saying, "The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day." (Luke 9:21-22).

Jesus warns them to silence. Why did Jesus give such a warning? I think that there are two reasons.

  1. Jesus was not a self-proclaimed Messiah.
  2. You can count on one hand the times that Jesus announced Himself as being the promised Messiah from the Old Testament Scriptures. Nearly all of those times that He did so announce Himself, it was in a private setting and to a very small audience.

    This made it all the more significant when others recognized Him as Messiah. Even at His trial before Caiaphas, it would be the Council of elders, the high court of Israel who would ask the unbidden question: "If You are the Christ, tell us." (Luke 22:67a).

    But He said to them, "If I tell you, you will not believe; 68 and if I ask a question, you will not answer. 69 But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God."

    And they all said, "Are You the Son of God, then?" And He said to them, "Yes, I am." (Luke 22:67b-69).

    This was the only occasion where Jesus publicly affirmed that He was both Messiah and the Son of God. It was an affirmation that led to His crucifixion.

  3. It was not yet time for Peter and the disciples to proclaim the Messiahship of Jesus because they had not yet learned what being "Messiah" was all about. Peter knew nothing about the cross. But he is about to find out.

This is the first of three times that Jesus tells His disciples of His impending death. All three of the Synoptic Gospels record all three instances where Jesus revealed this to His disciples.

Matthew

Mark

Luke

1st Time

Jesus Christ began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day (16:21).

He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again (8:31).

"The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day." (9:22).

2nd Time

"The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men; and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day."(17:22-23).

"The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later." (9:31).

"...the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men" (9:44).

3rd Time

"Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death,

and will deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up" (20:18-19).

"Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and will deliver Him to the Gentiles. And they will mock Him and spit upon Him, and scourge Him, and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again" (10:33-34).

"Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be delivered to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and mistreated and spit upon, and after they have scourged Him, they will kill Him; and the third day He will rise again" (18:31-33).

After each of these revelations, the disciples will demonstrate a lack of understanding. And each time, Jesus will summon them and teach them of how they should live in light of the cross.

 

THE DISCIPLES OF THE CROSS

And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. 25 For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

"But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who shall not taste death until they see the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:23-27).

The call to discipleship is a call to follow Jesus. We read that in the last two words of verse 23 where Jesus says, "Follow Me." The good news is that, if you follow Jesus you will never walk alone. The fact that you are following Him indicates that He is with you and is leading the way. He is no armchair general. He never called men to go where He did not first go Himself.

This call is to death. When Jesus calls a man, He calls for him to come and to die. His words concerning a cross had no implications of salvation to the ears of the disciples that day. To them, a cross was simply the instrument of execution. It was like saying, "He who wishes to follow Me must bring his own hangmanís noose."

Verse 24 is presented in the form of a chiasm.

For whoever wishes to save his life...

...he is the one who will save it

¯

­

will lose it...

óBUTó

whoever loses his life for My sake...

The only way to save your life is to lose it for the sake of Jesus and for the sake of His message. Does this mean that only martyrs are saved? In a sense, it does. It does not mean that you must be nailed to a literal cross. But it DOES mean that you must be willing to renounce all that was your former life to become all that God has called you to be.

There is a corollary here that deals with physical death. I havenít died yet, so I canít speak from experience, but I think that there is a truth here. The level of difficulty in dying is inversely proportional to how much you have already died.

Are you still trying to hold on to your life? There is a natural human tendency to do so. We are called to give it up. And He will give you HIS life in return.

Jesus said to His disciples, "They hated Me; they will also hate you. They crucified Me; they will also seek to crucify you."

"If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ĎA slave is not greater than his master.í If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you" (John 15:18-20a).

There is a direct correlation between the reception that one accords to Jesus with the reception that one accords His people. If you love Jesus, then you will of necessity also love His people.

It is for this reason that Jesus tells us that the final judgment will be based upon how one treated the people of God.

But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.

Then the King will say to those on His right, "Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me."

Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, "Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?"

And the King will answer and say to them, "Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me." (Matthew 25:31-40).

When you first read this, it sounds as though Jesus is saying that salvation is obtained on the basis of your works. But that isnít the case. It isnít that you are saved by doing good works, but it is that the sign of your salvation will be seen in your attitude toward Godís people because of the truth that people who love Jesus also love people who love Jesus.

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20).

And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24).

Notice the past and the present of this crucifixion. The two tenses are seen in these two verses:

Galatians 2:20

Galatians 5:24

We have been crucified with Christ

We crucify our old nature

Our freedom from condemnation of the law

Our freedom from the power of the flesh

Passive

Active

The one is based on the other. Our attitude toward our life today is based upon how we have seen our death in Christ in the past. Donít miss this! The "juice" to live the Christian life is not based upon what you feel that you ought to do. It is not based upon your sense of obligation or even solely upon your love. It is based upon your IDENTITY in Christ. It is based upon the CROSS.

 


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